The Importance of Vitamin D During Pregnancy
- Most clinicians recommend vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy
- An estimated 33% of pregnant women in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D1
- Vitamin D benefits babies during and after pregnancy
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin for the body’s ability to synthesize it from exposure to sunlight. It has also been linked to just about every health condition under the sun! In addition to having numerous benefits for bone, brain, cardiovascular, immune, metabolic, and respiratory health (check out “Don’t Forget Vitamin D this Cold and Flu Season”), vitamin D is a critical nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. Emerging evidence helps us understand the precise benefits of vitamin D during pregnancy, and while this research is fairly new, the evidence of vitamin D’s benefit is strong.
Vitamin D, pregnancy benefits, and the consequences of deficiency
Research shows that vitamin D may benefit certain complications during pregnancy. For maternal health, these complications may involve blood pressure, blood sugar balance and cesarean section (c-section). For the baby’s health, they include preterm birth2,3, low birthweight4, birth length, and head circumference at birth. Despite potential complications, an estimated 33% of pregnant women in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D1, and some research suggests that the percentage is even higher.1,5 Below are examples of how vitamin D may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Vitamin D’s prenatal benefits for mothers:
Vitamin D and Preeclampsia
Gestational diabetes: A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood sugar levels that typically resolves itself after pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Preterm birth: Birth occurring before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Also called premature birth.